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Straight from the Heart

Patrice Rushen

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Album Review

An early-'80s jazz-pop-R&B synthesis as durable and pleasing as any other, Straight from the Heart was Patrice Rushen's most successful album, at least from a sales standpoint: it peaked at number 14 on the pop chart, 25 slots higher than 1980's Pizzazz. Still working with a core group of associates — including Freddie Washington, Charles Mims, Paul M. Jackson, and Marlo Henderson (along with a still young Gerald Albright) — that went back to her earlier Elektra albums, the material here is as slick as ever, but not at the expense of lighter rhythms or less memorable melodies. Much of the album's popularity can be attributed to the club hit "Forget Me Nots," Rushen's most-known single — a breezy, buoyant mixture of handclaps, fingersnaps, twisting bass, and Rushen's typically blissful (and not overplayed) electric piano, not to mention the incorporation of a bad bass-and-percussion breakdown. (If you were born after the mid-'70s or so, you'd be more likely to recognize the song as the basis of Will Smith's "Men in Black.") Beyond a forgettable ballad or two, the only disappointment is the Brenda Russell collaboration on "Breakout!," where rock affectations (gnarling electric guitar, grimacing vocal tactics that suit neither Rushen nor Russell) damage what could've been a bigger hit. "Remind Me," despite not being released as a single, is a sweet and low-slung groove that has been sampled and interpolated by no less than a dozen significant rap and R&B songs — including Faith Evans' "Fallin' in Love," Notorious B.I.G.'s "Unbelievable," MoKenStef's "He's Mine," and Junior M.A.F.I.A.'s "I Need You Tonight." But it's not like anything about this album requires that kind of validation. [Rhino's 1996 reissue adds the 12" versions of all three singles, including seven very replayable minutes of "Forget Me Nots," as well as two single edits.]

Biography

Born: 30 September 1954 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Along with contemporaries George Duke and George Benson, Patrice Rushen made a major transition from cutting respected acoustic jazz material to hitting the upper reaches of the club and R&B charts. A dynamite keyboardist with a limited but sweet voice, Rushen debuted at the age of 20 on the Prestige label, working with maverick saxophonist Joe Henderson. Within a matter of a few years, legendary club DJ Larry Levan was spinning her carefree but sophisticated post-disco singles released on...
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Straight from the Heart, Patrice Rushen
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